Case study: Dutch Rail

Driving digital transformation at Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Rail)

Industry: Public Sector | Application: S/4HANA Archiving and Decommissioning | Product: SAP ILM

Case Study: Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Rail)


The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Rail), the principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands, operates the second busiest rail network in the world with over 1.2 million train journeys each day. Alongside their operations in the Netherlands, they own several rail franchises in the UK and Germany through their subsidiary, Abellio. 

Challenges to address: Navigating the complex landscape of legacy systems and Covid-19 impacts 

Dutch Rail faced a series of challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a drop in passenger numbers, creating a need for cost reductions. Additionally, the company was transitioning towards more agile and flexible ways of working, a change that required an equally adaptable IT system.  

Their legacy systems quickly became a roadblock on this journey. Costly to maintain, and there were concerns over the availability of security patches. 

Dutch Rail also wanted to lay down the foundation to control data growth in their new S/4HANA system. 

“As part of our longer-term strategy for SAP, we wanted to ensure we were only keeping data that we really needed. As renowned experts in SAP data management, Proceed Group were perfectly placed to help us optimise our data footprint across both our production S/4HANA system and a set of legacy applications. The project has achieved everything we wanted and we look forward to working with Proceed Group again."

Christian Brinkhuizen, Project Manager at NS (Dutch Railways)

The solution: Bringing SAP Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) on board 

To overcome these challenges, Dutch Rail partnered with Proceed to implement SAP Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) to decommission their legacy systems. The process included data extraction, setting up retention periods, and building a series of reports for user access. Proceed also ran knowledge transfer sessions to empower Dutch Rail’s team to support the solution. 

Additionally, Proceed implemented ILM on their S/4HANA system to support the archiving of live production data. 

The business benefits: Achieving efficiency, cost reduction, and sustainability 

The project yielded significant benefits for Dutch Rail. Users could now access all the necessary legacy data, allowing for the legacy systems to be decommissioned. This change led to: 

  • A more agile, supportable, and secure IT landscape, ready to take advantage of SAP’s new solutions and those of external partners. 
  • A 50% reduction in SAP legacy system maintenance costs, with additional savings anticipated upon the decommissioning of the remaining legacy systems. 
  • Shutting down the old SAP systems running on old hardware and transitioning to more modern systems for ILM, reducing energy consumption and contributing to sustainability goals. 
  • Reduced expenditure on external resources and enabling Dutch Rail’s IT team to focus on more strategic work. 
  • An immediate reduction in data volume on S/4HANA, making it future-ready by controlling ongoing growth. 

Future prospects: Mapping the path to a more agile, compliance-ready, and sustainable business 

With Proceed’s help, Dutch Rail now has the right SAP data management strategy to control costs, meet legal, audit, and regulatory compliance requirements, and contribute to their ‘green IT’ goals. They are now ready to move all systems to HANA and run the business on S/4HANA, delivering the agility their business demands. Dutch Rail plans to soon ask Proceed to decommission their remaining legacy systems using SAP ILM, further streamlining their IT infrastructure and enhancing operational efficiency. 

“A structured approach to archiving and decommissioning will always result in huge cost savings and can also simplify migrations significantly. It has been a pleasure to work with Dutch Rail and help them address their challenges with SAP data. We are delighted with the significant ROI they have seen and the long-term savings they will see far into the future.”

Nick Parkin, CEO | Proceed Group

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